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3 scary network security challenges


3 scary network security challenges

Mitigating risk for distributed enterprises requires a comprehensive approach

This time of year, with Halloween approaching, people get really excited about being scared — but for IT managers, spooky network threats are no laughing matter.

In Part 2 of this three-part security series — in recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month — I wrote about network on-ramps that are important to guard. Today, let’s take a look at three aspects of security that are scary but not insurmountable:

Keeping Hackers Busy

With the steady increase of applications and devices requiring connectivity, and considering the maturation of hacking strategies, some of the largest companies in the world are realizing how difficult it is to completely prevent hackers from entering their networks. While security-driven network architecture to prevent breaches is very important, so is getting them off the network once they enter.

Security and IT managers at large companies realize that with savvy adversaries all over the world, detection and confusion are increasingly vital. Managers can keep potential attackers busy by fixing vulnerabilities as quickly as possible, isolating networks, changing firewall rules, moving files around, constantly putting new controls in place — and by doing all of this consistently.

Even so, these defensive tactics haven’t displaced the need for proactive security efforts. Strategies such as parallel networking with Cradlepoint’s 4G LTE solutions physically isolate the corporate network on which Point-of-Sale and other sensitive data reside.

Value of Medical Records Skyrockets

Not that long ago, it was a given that credit card information was the most sought-after data for hackers. Today, healthcare records have become the highest-value target.

A year ago, Reuters reported that medical information is worth 10 times more than a credit card number on the black market. Malicious activity includes using names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes, and billing information “to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or they combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers,” according to the report. Also, theft of medical records usually isn’t reported nearly as quickly as credit card fraud, which makes this type of data even more valuable.

If a company with 100 employees stores all of its valuable employee healthcare records on a USB drive that gets inserted into various managers’ computers, the risk for malicious activity is high. Once medical records are stolen, the negative effects on both employees and the company can be extensive and last for years.

Expansiveness of the IoT

In Part 2 of this security series, I wrote about how the Internet of Things (IoT) has enabled hackers to access networks through connected devices. However, it’s the sheer number of connected devices that is truly staggering.

Gartner predicts “4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014,” and that number will swell to 25 billion by 2020.

In a branch store, the IoT could encompass a wide variety of things, including: Point-of-Sale machines; digital signage; security system and surveillance cameras; breakroom refrigerator, toaster, coffee maker, and vending machines; printers; HVAC system; lighting controls; visitor WiFi; and more.

Out in the field, the scope of the IoT is even more vast. Wearables allow fire departments to monitor the location and physical well-being of firefighters. Cities monitor everything from traffic patterns to plowing progress during snowstorms. Industrial systems can be controlled and analyzed from a single remote location.

No one strategy or solution will keep networks secure and protect distributed enterprises. Companies can do their best to mitigate risk by educating employees, opening the lines of communication between staff and the IT department, engaging in penetration testing, and more. Cradlepoint contributes to the cause with best-in-breed security and cloud management solutions.

Even amid ever-expanding network threats, we can work together to protect the sensitive data with which we have been entrusted.

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Learn more about Cradlepoint’s 4G LTE routing solutions with best-in-breed security.

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